Fact check: Deaths of despair and “white working class”

The Brookings Papers on Economic Activity published a report about its findings on so-called “deaths of despair”–overdose, suicide, and other sort of high-risk activities taken up by those with an inclination to self harm due to severe depression. This report divided the subjects by their racial demographics and found that it was the “white working class” who was actually dying the most, proportionately, from these deaths of despair. The news followed suit. But I had spotted a sleight of hand shortly after opening the report that made me suspicious of the methodology: White people were divided by whether or not they had attained a high school diploma, yet all other racial demographics were generalized into a single measurement.

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The Advocate, milquetoast liberals, and wearing many hats

Content Notice: Racism, white supremacist apology, minimization, gaslighting, general clueless white assholery

When we last saw Apologist-for-White-Supremacy Amanda Kerri, she was attempting to delicately explain “economic anxiety” coming from the United States’ least troubled demographic within the working class. Now it seems Kerri is joining what will soon be a tradition of milquetoast liberals falling in line to give jackbooted authoritarianism a chance.

I try to ration my criticisms of other trans women carefully. Belonging to a badly-maligned group often makes visible activists a lightning rod for bad faith criticism, but nonetheless there’s only so much bullshit I can take before I switch from “maybe you just had limited opportunities in education because of prejudice” to “okay, you’re an asshole.”

Kerri begins:

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Signal boosting: Make America White Again

Most of us have noticed the parallels between 1930s Germany and the situation in the United States today. But if we are willing to call the German obsession with the so-called Aryan race a form of white supremacy, it is curious that the designation largely slips past mainstream media when discussing Trump’s campaign, including his supporters.

I suppose it’s easier for a foreign paper to publish it. Content Notice: Paris attacks, not quoted here, but present in the rest of the article. (emphasis added)

Gallup’s goal was to create a profile of Trump supporters, describe their social and economic circumstances and locate them on the map of America. It collected more than 87,000 responses over a year ending this past July.

The resulting analysis is a dry read, some of which confirms what we already knew: Trump supporters are more likely to be white, older males; less likely to have a higher education; more likely to be Christian and to say their faith is important to them.

But the thing that is new and important is how the data upends what many thought was the economic and social experience of Trump supporters — namely, the belief that they are the people most deeply affected by a failing economy and rising immigration rates.

According to the Gallup results, those who support Trump are slightly better off economically and employment-wise than people who don’t support him. While they are likely to live in areas that have suffered economically, they are also likely to be better off than their neighbours, and to have been spared the worst effects of the 2008 recession.

They are also significantly less likely to live in communities where there is a substantial immigrant population. In other words, Trump supporters are less likely than other Americans — and less likely even than other Republicans — to have regular personal experiences with immigrants.

Jonathan Rothwell, a senior economist at Gallup, says that Trump has been misleading his flock.

Intuitively, I’ve been skeptical of any connection with reality concerning the “economic anxieties” line that’s often dropped when discussing Trump’s campaign. I understood that this was the perception, but tried to root around for numbers to substantiate it. The Gallup poll discussed here seems to indicate that while everyone was hit by the Great Recession, Trump supporters took the least of it. If Trump supporters are perceiving economic threats, they are missing the broader picture of who is actually shouldering the burden of the recession.

As is often the case. I refuse to believe that Republican supporters are simply “stupid,” and there had to be a reason they were so prominent among majority demographics.

They’re not rich by any means, but they’re well-off enough that the Republican’s assault on social services won’t generally affect them. That’s why they can support the racist and xenophobic policies of the GOP, policies bundled with a vicious assault on those living in poverty: As a demographic, they ain’t in poverty. By process of elimination, that largely leaves one motivating factor–racial anxiety.

You’re shocked, I know.

Many months ago, I sat down with Matt Heimbach, the leader of the Traditionalist Worker Party. He seemed calm, articulate and determined to sound reasonable — although that was before a YouTube video popped up showing him violently shoving a black woman out of a Trump rally in Kentucky.

I asked Heimbach what Trump meant to his movement.

“I’m not throwing in and saying I want Donald Trump to even be the president necessarily. What I do want is for him to keep saying these things, because it offers us a kind of political cover to be able to say, ‘Well, Donald Trump says it, we’re not that radical.’ It’s moving the discussion toward the right, towards nationalism,” he told me.

“He’s made immigration a topic here in America. He’s making the very question of what’s an American a question.”

That seems true. Trump has given broader license to the kind of political conversation that not long ago was relegated to the alt-right.

In my first chat with Ed Hunter, I asked him whether the people who supported Trump were mostly white people who resented having lost the power they once had in America.

“Well, they should be,” he jumped in, adding that they are struggling for “self-preservation.”

Man, I wish I could self preserve this aggressively. I’d go to jail, for a long time at that. The justice system is brutal to trans folk, trans women especially. That’s why I’m a pacifist–not out of any ideological aversion to hurting someone trying to hurt me–but because I have a better chance fighting a deadly assault in the hospital than I do a murder charge in the courtroom. But I mean, sure, let’s classify roaming lynch mobs in the making as “self preservation.”

“You know what they want more than anything? They want to be left alone.

Again, that’s an odd idea of being “left alone.”

They don’t want to be fighting off hordes and hordes of people from foreign cultures that are utterly changing their country to the core.

“You go into any airport, any public building, any public school and you look at what it is now compared to what it was 30 years ago, the level of security needed, the constant surveillance, the constant police presence.

“That’s not the America we grew up in. We didn’t need that. What changed? Who did they bring in that makes everybody so afraid?”

Immigration to America, both legal and illegal, has increased over the last generation. But crime has not. In fact, violent crime, including rape, has decreased steadily, and in some cases dramatically.

So what is it, really, that “makes everybody so afraid?”

Trump knew from the start.

Again, those pesky statistics can’t survive the lens of fear. It doesn’t matter to Trump supporters that the actual fact of violent crime is decreasing, they perceive it to be increasing and that’s good enough.

Read the rest here.



The FBI in Kansas foiled a plot to bomb a Mosque and finally a media source–if not a mainstream one–calls the white plotters terrorists. Content Notice for violent racism and xenophobia:

The feds arrested three members of a right wing militia for allegedly planning to detonate explosives at an apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas, with Somali Muslims specifically the target, law enforcement announced at Friday.

The men were Curtis Allen and Gavin Wright, both 49, and of Liberal, Kansas, and Patrick Eugene Stein, 47, of Wright, Kansas, according to a Department of Justice press release. Their arrests Friday morning were first reported by CBS News.

The attack was allegedly planned for the day after Election Day, law enforcement said at a press conference. The men were recorded calling the immigrants “goddamn cockroaches” and “fucking raghead bitches” in recordings, according to court documents. They planned the attack as a response to the Orlando massacre, as well to the fatal shooting of Oregon occupier Lavoy Finicum, the docs said.

They are facing domestic terrorism charges, which, if they are convicted, could result in a maximum sentence of life in federal prison, law enforcement said.

An affidavit signed by FBI special agent Tracey Jenkins (embedded below) details law enforcement’s investigation into the group’s activities. The men were operating in a group that called itself the Crusaders and in an overlapping organization known as the Kansas Security Force, according to the affidavit.

“These are militia groups whose members support and espouse sovereign citizen, anti-government, anti- Muslim, and anti-immigrant extremist beliefs,” the affidavit said.

The investigation uncovered stockpiles of firearms and explosive materials, as well as a manifesto, Beall said at the press conference.

“One of them said, ‘The bombing would wake people up,'” Beall said.

According to the affidavit, the men were recorded numerous times by an unnamed FBI source discussing their plans while smearing Muslims and immigrants.

“The only good Muslim is a dead Muslim,” Stein said in a recording, according to the affidavit. He later added: “If you’re a Muslim I’m going to enjoy shooting you in the head.”

The suspects allegedly planned to attack the housing complex, where approximately 120 people live and where one of the apartments was used as a mosque, the officials said. They planned to use four vehicles, each filed with explosive and parked at each corner of the parking lot, to create a big explosion, according to the affidavit.

Yes, obviously the answer to a terrorist plot executed by an American citizen is to start a terrorist plot targeting American immigrants.

How did I not think of it sooner?



Edit October 23: Changed a reference to the targets being refugees to immigrants.

Tone policed IRL. It felt weird.

I try to help out the local BLM chapter by pulling aside clueless white people and trying to gently coax them along to stop talking for 3 hours. Failing that, I give them my contact info, offer to send them some introductory materials written by PoC–which I’m also compiling for the blag–and tell them their return will be contingent on reading those materials. I take this role because the local chapter falls under the “make shit happen” branch of activism. While the “make shit happen” branch can only grow with the help of the “educate the majority” branch, the “make shit happen” branch can’t be dragging itself down trying to clue in the clueless.

So I do it. Or, try to. Most decline to read the material. Most are there to detract. Most haven’t figured out that a minority specialty interest group needs majorities to STFU and listen. Most aren’t permabanned, but few meet our conditions for return.

I had a frankly surreal encounter which I’m still kind of wrapping my head around. Our Mayor and Premier are trying to run this social media campaign called #MakeItAwkward which calls on white people to point out instances of racist microaggression. The local BLM chapter has no consensus on this. Some feel it’s… milquetoast, that the recent spike in hate incidents needs a competent police response and not a hashtag. Some point out that it still contributes to a broader system of dismantling racism. It’s complicated.

While BLM was debating on whether to integrate it in our next plan of action, a white dude butted in with predictable white fragility: I’m not racist, so stop talking like I’m the problem. He says, at a meeting that’s supposed to be amplifying black voices.

I digress.

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White men have killed more cops than all other groups combined

Dear #BlueLivesMatter,

I question where your outrage is. You’re the type who thinks calling for police accountability is hate speech. You’re the type who’s taken the hook, line, and sinker of Faux News characterizing Black Lives Matter as a terrorist group–despite the fact that the only police casualties at a BLM rally were from someone unaffiliated with the movement. You’re keen to latch on to the more hazy or questionable cases of justified violence from police, whilst conveniently ignoring the slough of black women and men who died complying to police orders. You can see black children being assaulted by police and for some reason, this doesn’t galvanize you. Cops have been caught on camera inventing crimes to charge protesters with. And an entire police department has been indicted in keeping a teenaged girl as a sex slave for two years, but you’re still convinced bad apples are in the minority, or at the very least aren’t influential.

You’re willing to consider the absolute number of police brutality deaths as evidence that whites have it worse, but you ignore that the absolute number of people who murder police are overwhelmingly white:

Something’s afoot, though, on why we’re not hearing much about this shocking increase in the number of officers who’ve been shot and killed so far in 2016. Sadly, I think I have the answer.

Seventy-one percent of police who’ve been shot and killed this year weren’t murdered by black men with cornrows or hoodies. They weren’t gunned down by Latino gang members in low-rider drive-bys. Those stereotypes would be too convenient. Instead, 71% of police who’ve been shot and killed so far in 2016 have been killed by good old-fashioned white men.

You haven’t seen these stories on Fox News or Breitbart because they don’t fit their narrative of blaming police violence on the Black Lives Matter movement or President Obama. Because “scary” black faces can’t be flashed across their screens, they don’t even tell the stories at all — which suggests they don’t care so much about police, but about using police deaths like a political football.

You best believe that if a 59% rise in the number of police officers shot and killed in the line of duty could be blamed on immigrants, Mexicans, or black folk, it would be a regular conservative talking point.

Instead, Donald Trump has never mentioned these fallen officers on the campaign trail because it may have very well been his supporters who did the shooting for all he knows.

It appears that blue lives only matter to popular conservatives when they are taken by somebody they can easily demonize. In the meantime, police groups continue to protest a black woman when a black woman hasn’t killed an officer in years.

Welcome to America. 2016.

So you mean one of the most vivid violent actions you can take against the State–the murder of its officials–is primarily carried out by white people??

Where be all the white terrorist posters and media pundits?


Signal boosting: All Trump supporters are White Supremacists

Ijeoma Oluo nails it when it comes to the problems of Trump’s presidency campaign. People have been giving Trump supporters wiggle room for them to say, “well, I’m not the bad guy, so I can continue supporting Trump!”

Oluo points out that no, supporting a White Supremacist means that you are, at best, indifferent to White Supremacy, which means you fail at ethics: (emphasis mine)

Now some of you may be asking, as you have on Facebook and Twitter: “Ijeoma, are you really willing to call half of the U.S. population White Supremacists?” And to that my answer is hell yes. This may seem like a bold statement to some, but honestly, I can’t see why.

Human beings can quite easily fall in line with violent hatred and oppression; any quick glance through world history will show that to be true. Do you think that the Nazis came to power against the will of the German electorate, or with the support of the German people? Do you think that slavery was upheld purely by the few rich enough to own slaves, or by an entire society that even erected armies to defend it? And no, none of this can be excused away as “a product of the times”—humans are not like wine grapes; we do not have a few “bad years” that we can blame on the soil. If you recognize that these horrific systems of abuse, oppression, and even genocide were upheld by everyday people, then you have to acknowledge that everyday people are capable of some pretty heinous shit. You can be in the PTA and you can pay your taxes and you can volunteer at your local homeless shelter and at the same time you can be actively upholding the oppression of others. It has been done before and it is being done now.

I’d like to draw your attention to the last bit I quoted there. You can look at someone like Hitler and point out that he kissed his wife on the cheek and painted nice things and drank his tea with his pinky finger sticking out and probably cuddled with his dog. We need to dispel this notion of “Bad Guys” altogether, because it allows us to put distance between accountability and our ideas. If we support Trump, we support White Supremacy. That isn’t cancelled out by running a cat rescue or housing an estranged member of the family. You can be concerned with the welfare of certain people whilst being a White Supremacist.

History has shown us that those principled enough to accept the consequences of defiance in the face of a violent authoritarian regime are in the minority. Most of us will kowtow to violence. Most of us can be convinced to uphold a war machine. After all, every great crime against humanity was carried out and supported by the average Joe. If we understand there is a tremendous capacity for violence in all of us, we are better equipped to see the world not as Good vs. Evil–which is exactly the simplistic narrative authoritarians want you to believe–but instead to see the world as a collection of largely mutually exclusive ideas, with different goals and different degrees of effectiveness.

That’s why I’m not interested in the biography of any given White Supremacist. I don’t care about the individual. I care about the idea, and what it represents.


When festering pustules pop up on campus

Content Notice: White Supremacy

It’s no secret to woke Edmontonians that we have our own dregs from the bottom of the alt right barrel. Between PUAs scheduling meet ups to MRAs following women around who have the audacity to ignore them, with redneck hillbillies shouting racial epithets on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that we would eventually find signs of White Supremacy, especially since Trump’s bold campaign has been emboldening them.


Photo credit: Brett L.

They chose my university, the University of Alberta. Posted on the corkboard of Student’s Union announcements, a fellow local activist took a pic before the poster was taken down.

It probably tells you everything you need to know when a racist jumps to the conclusion that anti-racism efforts are inherently anti-white, as if PoCs are just waiting for the chance to leap into power and reignite the engine of discrimination. What exactly are they afraid of? Being treated as poorly as they treat black people?

So hey, I guess I just wanted a crystal clear example of how Edmonton’s got its own cancerous alt right growths.

The poster is anonymous, of course. Probably doesn’t want to be labelled a social pariah for being a shitstain of a human being.


Insults so common they become meaningless

It’s quite easy to take the piss out of a supposed insult like Social Justice Warrior because it is so loosely used that, by now, it pretty much means “a woman I don’t like.” It has been used on men, but those men are typically minorities in other ways. Cishet white men are typically called “White Knights” or some variant thereof by the neo-Nazi alt right or by people who are just antagonistic in general to the idea of social equity. But SJW and its associated spinoffs are essentially shorthand ways of signalling dismissal to anyone from “moderates who want the opportunity to avoid discomfort in conversations about discrimination” to “fascist apologists who can’t wait to dox and harass someone into oblivion.” It’s a literal ad hominem–no engaging with the substance of the argument provided, just shout SJW and any conversation about structural, institutional, or individual discrimination can be safely ignored or dismissed as frivolous.

Enter Philip DeFranco. :/

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